One of the big lessons to be learnt at the ending of a funded Comenius project is that the cementing of friendships that are soon to be put on hold (not the best expression, but those to whom it has happened know what I mean) is somehow still worthwhile, and worth paying close attention to. These are investments that yield returns in memory and influence on our practice. There is the actual project work of course, and the impact on the children we lead, but because this work is mediated through thinking, feeling and compassionate humans, it is inevitable that the greatest impact will be on the adult participants.
We have been back two days and the pressures of other challenges can crowd out the sense of achievement and comradeship that has been built over this two year project. I have really enjoyed watching Christ the Sower teaching and support staff grow into these friendships, and having the same sense of revelation that I had when I first encountered different ways of teaching children. And this new view really is something that is revealed by experience. It cannot be taught or told.
When I was nearing the completion of the first of my Comenius projects in Shropshire, we held a discussion as coordinators in which one of us said that if we had a list of our 20 best friends, we would all be on each others’. This is akin to the feeling we take away from the visit to Holland – there are deep and enduring friendships that will be perpetuated through telling and retelling and the occasional contact at Christmas and over the summer. These relationships are at the very heart of the work that the EU has so graciously funded, as is a new and deepened respect for ways of working and the accompanying values that are different from our own. How we manage and feed these friendships will be a matter of discussion among those of us who have participated, but it needs to be done.
I spent the last day in Holland taking Daisy the Concrete Cow, who is now a well travelled piece of conglomerate, to various places in Amsterdam. Photographs follow, just for the sake of it.